Cape Town – The Sharks secured back-to-back wins to kick off their new Super Rugby campaign after comfortably dispatching the Blues 26-7 at Kings Park.
The opening try was scored after just seven minutes, and came courtesy of a lost line-out from the Blues and some impressive play from the Sharks backs.
Lukhanyo Am put through the initial grubber, before Makazole Mapimpi kicked the ball on and collected it, throwing a deft little pass to fullback Aphelele Fassi who barreled over the line despite the attention of several Blues defenders for his first Super Rugby try.
The conversion was wide, but the Sharks stayed on the front foot and were soon rewarded with their second score of the afternoon.
After opting for a line-out rather than kicking at goal following a penalty in the Blues 22, the Sharks set up a short-range maul, and it was hooker Akker van der Merwe who made his way through the scrum courtesy of a powerful drive before falling over.
This time Du Preez added the extras to give the Sharks a promising 12-0 lead, and only some desperate defence from the Blues forwards prevented the Sharks from going over for their third try as they managed to hold the ball up six inches over the line.
As the first half wore on, the stifling Durban heat was also becoming more of a factor and play was interrupted for a water break to give the players a bit of relief.
It wasn’t long before the Blues found themselves under more pressure, however, and it eventually told three minutes before the break. Playing with the advantage following an infringement at the maul, the ball was shifted left and Du Preez all but strolled through a gap in the tired defence before adding the extras to put the Sharks 19-0 up heading into half-time.
The home side probably should have had their fourth try eight minutes after the break after a great run by Am down the right, but new arrival Curwin Bosch, who had come on for injured winger Sibusiso Nkosi shortly before half-time, couldn’t execute the final pass.
The Blues thought they had their first score in the 57th minute when flyhalf Otere Black dotted down after the ball was shifted through the hands from right to left, but TMO Marius Jonker intervened, ruling out the try after spotting an obstruction from the back of the scrum that started the move.
The visitors did have their try five minutes later, though, another backline move doing the trick as substitute Tanielu Tele’a found the gap and crossed the line to bring the deficit down to just 12 points with 17 minutes remaining.
The Sharks needed cool and calm heads but that wasn’t what lock Ruan Botha provided when he was sin-binned in the 68th minute for a cynical foul.
The momentum had shifted the Blues’ way now, but they weren’t able to make their one-man advantage count, and the Sharks managed to hold them at bay until Botha returned to the field.
And with the clock winding down and the result all but secured, the Sharks bagged their fourth try of the afternoon courtesy of an intercept from Bosch, who was able to run all the way home before Du Preez added the extras to make it two Super Rugby wins from two for the Sharks to kick off their season.
Sharks 26 (19)
Tries: Aphelele Fassi, Akker van der Merwe, Rob du Preez, Curwin Bosch
Conversions: Rob du Preez (3)
Blues 7 (0)
Try: Tanielu Tele’a
Conversion: Otere Black
15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (captain), 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Hyron Andrews, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Curwin Bosch
15 Michael Collins, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 TJ Faiane, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Otere Black, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe
Substitutes: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Matt Matich, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Tanielu Tele’a
Rob Houwing – Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – It is one of those “could work a charm … might backfire noticeably” selection moves.
On immediate thought, you have to credit Lions head coach Swys de Bruin for enterprise through his decision to pick two mobile but notably small flanks for the Super Rugby round-two clash with the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday (17:15 kick-off).
Rather than take the difficult decision over which of in-form incumbent Marnus Schoeman or fit-again Kwagga Smith to deploy on the open side of the scrum, he has instead shelved the principle – at least for this week – of fielding a more conventional, brawny blind-sider and pinned his faith in both whippets as his flankers for the derby.
Considering that captain and seasoned No 8 Warren Whiteley is also more renowned for his roaming and off-loading skills than his out-and-out “grunt” (though he is increasingly no shirker in that department), the Lions will fascinatingly field one of the least physical loose trios imaginable at this level.
By stark contrast, their home-town opponents, hurting from a 40-3 thrashing by the Bulls in Pretoria in their season-opener, again put out the Springbok current first-choice flankers in Siya Kolisi, their own skipper, and SA Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit.
Both are rather more renowned for their bone-crunching qualities at close quarters – though Kolisi is not averse to a flair-laden offload or pacey charge or two in open play – than as pilferers and effective “extra back-liners”.
The tale of the tape between the two sets of flanks says a lot about the different styles on offer: Kolisi is 1.88m and 105kg to Schoeman’s especially diminutive 1.78m and 95kg, and the gap is considerably more acute between the powerhouse Du Toit (2.00m, 120kg) and former SA Sevens marauder Smith (1.82m, 94kg).
So clearly the Lions will be pinning a lot of faith in their front five to both outmuscle and outwork their direct Stormers counterparts, thus creating a springboard for fleet-footed Schoeman, fresh off his hat-trick of tries against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires, and Smith to not only engineer turnovers ad nauseum but take part in attacking raids against a home outfit who looked as questionable for defensive organisation as they were fumbling and lateral for own ball-in-hand efforts at Loftus.
The other reason the joint-selection of Schoeman – well-known to many Stormers players through his loan stint at Newlands during 2017 – and Smith is risky for the Lions is that it naturally compromises their lineout toward the tail.
While Whiteley is a quality lineout factor, he will be a bit of a one-man show – up against a range of taller opposition timber nearby in the shape of Stormers loosies Kolisi, Du Toit and Sikhumbuzo Notshe.
Still, coach De Bruin may have figured that the Stormers’ lineout is fragile enough at present – they botched at least four off their own throw early on during the Pretoria calamity, especially of the deeper variety – not to be too major a collective factor in home favour on Saturday.
In his defence selection-wise, too, it is not easy for De Bruin to put out a suitably “balanced” loose-forward combo at present, considering the injured status of No 7 wrecking-ball Cyle Brink.
The mastermind’s main bench back-row option at Newlands will be Hacjivah Dayimani, another who falls much more into the “athletic” category although he is considerably taller than both starting flankers and could bolster the visitors’ lineout if it becomes necessary.
Broadly, it seems clear the Lions intend to outsmart, outrun and out-skill the Stormers on an anticipated dry and warm day.
But at the same time, Robbie Fleck’s under-scrutiny charges will have looked at the starting shape of the Highvelders’ line-up and probably believe that they can overcome them in an earthier, slightly more bullying fashion …
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing
Cape Town – The African National Congress (ANC) has joined the chorus of support for South African athlete Caster Semenya.
The Olympic champion is appearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland to challenge rules proposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that would force her to lower her testosterone levels.
Track and field’s governing body says it is introducing the rules to create a “level playing field” for other female athletes.
The ANC released a press statement on the matter on Wednesday night, calling the IAAF’s ruling “dehumanising”.
The statement read: “The African National Congress joins President (Cyril) Ramaphosa and millions of South Africans in expressing support for Caster Semenya, as she challenges the dehumanising ruling of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
“We are encouraged by the resounding support the government and people of South Africa have expressed for our national champion, Caster Semenya. As the minister of sports, Thokozile Xhasa, travels to Switzerland to support Caster and personally convey the support of government and the nation, we commend her bold step to demonstrate to the world that South Africa will never forsake one of its own when subjected to bigotry and dehumanising treatment.
“Ours is a democracy built on a human rights foundation, where the right to have one’s human dignity respected and protected, is entrenched in our supreme law. We declare for all the nations of the world to know that our struggles for a just world, underpinned by respect and protection of human rights will never be compromised.
“The legacy bestowed on us by the giants of our liberation struggle such as Nelson Mandela, require of us to lead from the frontlines in demonstrating to the world that its support in declaring apartheid a crime against humanity was never in vain.”
The ANC added that it was appalled by the IAAF’s actions.
“We will never stand on the sidelines when the human rights legacy of our young democracy is under threat. We call on the international sporting world to raise their voices and condemn the despicable actions of the IAAF, which seek to force Caster Semenya to deny her nature and take drugs to alter what nature bestowed on her.”
Semenya won the 800 metre gold medals at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and also won her third world title in London two years ago.
Cape Town – The Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation has urged South Africans to support Caster Semenya, the country’s 800 metres double Olympic champion, in her bid to appeal a new set of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) regulations aimed at lowering the allowed limits of testosterone in hyperandrogenic athletes.
Committee chairperson Beauty Dlulane said the IAAF’s insistence on changing the regulations will lead to many people viewing it as a discriminatory world sporting organisation.
“There has to be justification in what the IAAF is proposing, because as things stand it appears they just want to slow Caster (down). For as long as Caster has competed, it has been the IAAF’s intention to change the regulations in order to disadvantage her.
“The IAAF’s actions towards Caster Semenya and other female athletes in Africa should be rejected with the contempt they deserve.”
Dlulane emphasised the importance of denouncing racism and sexism in sport, particularly when it tries to hide in regulations.
Semenya has lodged an appeal against the new regulations, which were scheduled to come into effect in November 2018, delaying their implementation until the appeal has been resolved, which is expected on March 26, 2019.
Female athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) will be forced to medicate to reduce their testosterone levels if the new regulations are implemented.
The portfolio committee called on the world, including every South African, to support Semenya during this week’s hearing of the appeal against the regulation.
She welcomed the Department of Sport and Recreation’s high-level team to fight the case, as well as President Cyril Ramaphosa’s message of support.
Rob Houwing – Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – So far so good … it seems a more than reasonable observation to make following Lood de Jager’s baptism on Saturday as the Bulls’ Super Rugby captain.
The same naturally applied to new head coach Pote Human: he’s off to a flier too, when you consider that 40-3 destruction jobs on arch-rivals the Stormers don’t come around every day.
But the business was primarily done out in the middle at Loftus, of course, where the Bulls’ collective unity of purpose was a striking feature of their handsome win.
For that, it seems almost impossible to downplay the influence of sound, suitably popular leadership.
The lanky De Jager occupies one of the spinal positions in a rugby team – the middle-jumping, so often lineout-calling lock – so Human probably figured that it was a decent stepping stone to his ascension to the broader leadership.
It came, let’s not forget, from a decent crop of candidates, too, not least being flyhalf Handre Pollard, a former SA under-20 captain and increasingly a vital cog in the Springbok machine.
Pollard remains in charge of the backline plans, and as De Jager’s official deputy; he should take the reins seamlessly enough in situations where the big No 5 has been deemed to have put in an energy-sapping shift in the engine room and is called off before the 80 minutes have run their course for game-management purposes.
Apart from his own vital, typically spring-heeled and vigilant role in giving the Stormers lineout a serious case of the collywobbles in the definitive first quarter on Saturday, the 2.06-metre Bok second-rower was suitably active in all other areas – including a healthy tackle count.
But there was also a discernible calmness to his captaincy, in the way he engaged not only with his own troops but referee Jaco Peyper, too, whenever necessary.
De Jager also comes across as agreeably affable and articulate in his television-interview and general media dealings, not afraid to infuse a welcome dash of humour.
The 26-year-old, for whom 2018 was severely curtailed by injury, is clearly on a mission this year to regain a starting place in the Test team, with the World Cup such a massive target toward the end of it.
He was only able to add two caps (off the bench, on the end-of-year tour) last year, bringing his current tally up to 38, while former domestic rival from the Lions, that eternal workaholic who is Franco Mostert, monopolised the green and gold No 5 jersey with 11 starts in the season.
But now Mostert has taken up residence at faraway Gloucester in the English Premiership, which should not do any harm, let’s face it, to De Jager’s quest to gradually muscle his way back to the front of the Test pecking order in the berth.
This may irk some long-time Johannesburg devotees of Mostert, but with his more formidable build and superior X-factor through his extraordinary athleticism, I would argue that Alberton-born De Jager is well-placed already to achieve that goal by the time the international roster comes around.
I have an early gut feeling, into the bargain, that captaincy will be good for De Jager’s overall game …
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing
Durban – It will go down as the most calamitous collapse in Proteas Test history, and while Sri Lankan hero Kusal Perera deserves all of the credit after one of the game’s great knocks, South Africa will take a while to get over this one.
As stunned skipper Faf du Plessis said in the immediate aftermath of the game, the reasons for what went wrong in that final hour and a half will take a day or two to sink in.
The undefeated 78-run stand between Perera and Vishwa Fernando is the highest 10th-wicket partnership to have ever been recorded in a successful Test match run chase.
Nothing the Proteas did worked.
Even when Sri Lanka were still 80 runs out, Du Plessis employed an ultra-defensive field against Perera. At some stages, there were eight South Africans on the fence to Sri Lanka’s new main man.
The plan, of course, was to restrict Perera’s scoring as much as possible while the Proteas wanted to bowl as many balls to the tail as possible.
Perera, though, felt no pressure with the field back and he worked his twos, hit his boundaries and took the singles at the most inconvenient times for the hosts.
South Africa simply didn’t bowl enough balls at the tail, and while that may have been down to some questionable tactics, it was mostly down to Perera’s brilliance.
Even when the Proteas did get their chance to bowl at Fernando, who was clearly uncomfortable, they could not get the job done.
Dale Steyn was too short, Kagiso Rabada could not hit the stumps with his yorkers and it all unravelled for Du Plessis and his men.
Perera hit 5 sixes in his knock, but the two he hit off back-to-back Steyn overs were the most memorable.
Steyn, one of the great fast bowlers of all time, was dispatched over square leg and deep into the stands with a brand-new Kookaburra in his hands.
By then, Du Plessis and the Proteas knew that they were on the verge of a loss that would raise serious questions.
This is a World Cup year and watching Steyn and the Proteas wilt under pressure will ring the alarm bells.
South Africa’s inability to rise to the occasion when the heat is turned up is well-documented in World Cups, and while this is obviously a different format entirely, the likes of Steyn, Rabada and Du Plessis will be key figures in South Africa’s charge in England later in the year.
And, when the pressure was at its highest on Saturday, South Africa’s old demons started rearing their heads once more.
Nobody at the post-match press conference on Saturday used the word ‘choke’, but it did not take long before Du Plessis was asked about the World Cup concerns that arise from losing a match from such a dominant winning position.
“I don’t see that. The pressure of Test cricket is very different,” the skipper said.
“You’re bowling to one player the whole time and some days you just have to say, ‘well played’.
“It wasn’t through our mistakes where we dropped catches and things like that. It was purely a super-human effort with the bat and when that happens in Test, T20 or ODI cricket then that’s got nothing to do with us and pressure. It’s got to do with how someone else plays.
“There have been no chats about World Cups since the Test team got together.”
Undefeated in a home Test series since taking the captaincy in 2016, Du Plessis was clearly distraught at the result.
Not only was Saturday the lowest point of his time as skipper, but the result means that South Africa cannot win this Test series with only next week’s Port Elizabeth affair to come.
With Du Plessis desperate to take the Proteas back to No 1 in the world, failure to beat Sri Lanka on home soil will do nothing for the Proteas in that endeavour.
The second and final Test gets underway on Thursday.
Durban – In the recently-completed Test series against Pakistan, Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis quietly went about notching up a significant milestone.
In the second Test at Newlands in Cape Town, Du Plessis skippered South Africa for the 27th time in his Test career.
It put him one ahead of Shaun Pollock, who captained the Proteas 26 times, and third on that list behind Graeme Smith (108) and Hansie Cronje (53).
Having captained the Proteas in Test cricket for the first time in August, 2016 after AB de Villiers stepped down from his own brief stint in charge, Du Plessis has grown into the role as the years have passed.
While his leadership qualities have been praised both inside and outside of the South African dressing room, on Friday at Kingsmead Du Plessis showed that he is far more than merely a captain.
His knock of 90 will not be one that we speak about often in the years to come, but in the context of this Test match it was key.
South Africa lost their last five wickets for just eight runs to be dismissed for 259 in their second innings, setting Sri Lanka a target of 304 to win.
That is still likely to be enough, but it should have been a lot more and had Du Plessis not come to the party, Sri Lanka might very well be within striking distance of taking a shock 1-0 lead into the second and final Test in Port Elizabeth.
Du Plessis, in familiar fashion, was a pillar for the Proteas.
He is seldom easy on the eye when it comes to his Test approach, but his dogged mentality and seasoned technique combine to make him a very difficult batsman to get out.
On Friday, in fact, Du Plessis got himself out.
Vishwa Fernando, impressive throughout the contest with eight wickets to his name, went around the wicket and angled one in towards the stumps that did nothing off the wicket.
Du Plessis, 90* at the time having batted for four testing hours, offered no shot and was rapped on the pads and given out LBW.
The skipper was visibly gutted at missing out on a 10th Test ton – it would have also been his second in as many Tests – but he would have been even more upset at doing all the hard work and then not being able to bat South Africa into an unassailable position.
Du Plessis had shared in a 96-run stand with the fluent Quinton de Kock for the fifth wicket, and in doing so he displayed a flexibility and ability to play the situations that suggest he would be more than comfortable in taking on the all-important No 4 role in this Test side.
With De Kock scoring relatively freely from one end, Du Plessis provided stable support from the other.
Yet, when De Kock was out for 55, Du Plessis was able to accelerate to ensure that the Proteas kept taking the game forward.
With 33 wickets having fallen in three days so far, batting has not been easy on this slow Kingsmead strip while Sri Lanka have surprised and have been in with a shout throughout.
On Friday, the hosts needed somebody in their frail top order to stand up and be counted. Du Plessis was that man.
He is not always front and centre when it comes to blazing knocks in the format, but Du Plessis averages 44.07 as a Test captain and he has never lost a series at home.
At 34, it is not clear how much longer he will be around for.
But, before he does call it quits, Du Plessis has three very important assignments remaining as skipper.
He desperately wants to take the Proteas back to No 1 in the Test rankings, he will try and guide South Africa to a first ever World Cup crown later this year and there is an ICC World T20 next year.
For now, South African cricket seems to be in good hands.
Durban – At Kingsmead on Thursday, Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis tried to take Dale Steyn out of the attack at the end of his 16th over.
In the skipper’s defence, Steyn had just been hit for back-to-back boundaries and with Sri Lanka 177/8 at the time, Du Plessis would have wanted to wrap things up as quickly as possible.
But if Dale Steyn wants to keep bowling, then good luck trying to take the ball out of his hands.
In a superb effort of high-octane, high-speed fast bowling, the 35-year-old delivered another four overs to finish with figures of 4-48 in 20.
He bowled 10 on the trot after lunch – he says it is just the third time in his career he has done so – and he would have claimed his first five-wicket haul since 2016 were it not for Dean Elgar’s sitter of a dropped catch in Steyn’s 17th over.
The five-for was not to be this time, but given everything that Steyn has endured since breaking his shoulder in Australia in 2016, this was a spell that well and truly put to bed any doubts that may have remained over his fitness levels.
Steyn’s figures for that post-lunch spell read: 10-4-24-2.
Perhaps more encouraging was the fact that, throughout that 60-ball spell, Steyn’s speeds never dipped.
On a slow Kingsmead wicket, he comfortably clocked in the 140km/h range.
There is still a lot to do in this Test if South Africa are to secure victory – they lead by 170 with six second-innings wickets remaining – but seeing Steyn in full flight for such an extended period will be as pleasing as any victory for the Proteas brains trust.
Make no mistake, it was not easy.
“Shit, it’s hard,” Steyn offered with a tired smile and that famous white floppy perched on his head after the day’s play.
“I felt that it was going well for me and I told myself: ‘I’m not going for any runs and I’m going to just carry on going here until the captain has enough.’
“He had enough after my sixth, but I kept begging and I got what I wanted.”
Steyn knows that cricket isn’t the most important thing in the world, but being away from the game he loves so dearly with a series of injuries that threatened to end his career has put it all into perspective.
“After not playing for two years it’s just a blessing to be able to be playing again,” he said.
“I almost feel like I’ve had to start over and that I’m not on 430-odd wickets, I’m on like 20 since I broke Polly’s (Shaun Pollock’s) record.
“It was nice to finish a three-Test series against Pakistan and not have someone write that I’m an injury away from retiring. It’s nice today to contribute again and I just feel like I’ve started over.”
A key member of South Africa’s Cricket World Cup plans this year, Steyn has a lot that he still wants to achieve in Proteas colours.
The talk is that he will bring down the curtain on his white ball endeavours after that tournament, but that he wants to keep going for as long as possible on the Test stage.
“Hopefully this can continue for a wee longer, but I don’t know how much longer right now. If I’m bowling 10-over spells then it shows you that I’m enjoying what I do,” he added.
“If you had asked me two years ago where the full stop would be, I would have been able to give you an answer. But when you take two years out of it you realise that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
“It’s just fun to be here.”
Steyn’s four wickets on Thursday mean that he is tied with England’s Stuart Broad on 437 as the joint seventh-highest wicket-takers in Test history.
Elgar probably owes him a beer for not getting him to 438, but Steyn is not one to sweat the small stuff.
“Test cricket is hard. Nothing should come easy,” he said.
“Fifers shouldn’t come easy, and no catch is easy, either.”
Play on Friday gets underway at 10:00.
Durban – South Africa, heavily favoured to waltz to victory in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Durban, are off to a shaky start.
The visitors won the toss and elected to bowl on the opening morning and it proved to be exactly the right decision as the Proteas batsmen limped through their first innings.
SCOREBOARD: SA v SL – 1st Test
At stumps on day one after play had been stopped due to bad light, the Proteas had been dismissed for 235 in their first innings while Sri Lanka were 49/1 in their reply, 186 behind.
Dale Steyn (1/10) got the only breakthrough for the Proteas when Sri Lankan opener Lahiru Thirimanne (0) played at a wide ball unnecessarily to find the edge.
The day belonged to Sri Lankan left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando, who claimed career-best figures of 4/62 as South Africa tried and failed numerous times to take control of the game.
If it was not for Quinton de Kock’s fearless 80 off 94 (8×4, 1×6), South Africa would have been in serious trouble.
The Proteas wicketkeeper, elevated to No 6 in the batting order, was eventually the last man out as he looked to take the attack to the visitors with no support left from the other end.
There was also resistance in the form of Temba Bavuma (47) and Faf du Plessis (35), but the Proteas were in trouble from the very beginning as they fell to 17/3 with Dean Elgar (0), Hashim Amla (3) and Aiden Markram (11) all falling in quick succession.
There is plenty in this Kingsmead wicket for the seamers and that will encourage South Africa given they have gone in with a bowling-heavy attack that includes all Steyn, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier.
It may have been a good toss to win, but the Sri Lankans still had to put the ball in the right areas and they showed largely impressive control and accuracy throughout the day despite the Proteas going at a run rate of nearly 4-per over.
Elgar (0) was first to go when he feathered a Fernando delivery that had just nipped away slightly through to Niroshan Dickwella behind the stumps.
There was then a moment of controversy when Amla on 0* at the time, survived a massive shout for LBW off Fernando.
The bowler seemed convinced as he went up for the appeal only for umpire Aleem Dar to rule ‘not out’ despite what looked a very good shout to the naked eye.
Dimuth Karunaratne, captaining his country for the first time, then took his time consulting his team-mates before signalling to send the decision upstairs for the review.
Bizarrely, that request was overlooked by Dar before it was incorrectly ruled that the maximum time of 15 seconds allowed to request a review had passed.
Replays revealed that Amla had, in fact, been trapped plumb LBW but with the review not triggered, he survived.
It didn’t make the world of difference.
Amla was out caught in the slips off the bowling of Lakmal without offering a shot as South Africa were reduced to 9/2.
Aiden Markram (11) was next to fall as he became the impressive Fernando’s second victim with an absolute cracker of a delivery.
Markram had looked to get forward, but Fernando landed the ball perfectly and moved it back in to the right-hander beat the inside edge and leave the hosts 17/3.
That brought Bavuma and skipper Du Plessis together, and the pair began fighting hard for every run with a series of quick singles scattered in between some resolute defence that saw them card a 72-run stand.
Du Plessis fell in the final over before lunch when a Sri Lankan review saw him given out for edging a Kasun Rajitha delivery down the leg side.
Bavuma’s resistance ended in the most unfortunate fashion. He had batted with superb application in trying conditions and had clawed his way to 47, but he was run out after backing up at the non-striker’s end.
De Kock had driven Fernando straight down the ground, but the bowler managed to get the slightest of touches with his foot before the ball deflected onto the stumps and replays revealed that Bavuma was short of his ground.
Sri Lanka will resume on the second morning with Karunaratne (28*) and debutant Oshada Fernando (17*) at the wicket.
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – SuperSport have confirmed that John Smit, captain of South Africa’s second World Cup-winning team in 2007, will be a key addition to their panel of experts for the Super Rugby 2019 campaign which begins this weekend.
There will be further new faces among the studio pundits in the form of both Ndungane twins, Odwa and Akona.
Some of the trio have made appearances in front of the SuperSport cameras before, but communications manager Clinton van der Berg said this season would mark more regular presences in each instance.
Smit is naturally the “biggest fish” to join the group of analysts, as skipper of the Bok side who won the Webb Ellis Cup at the French-staged RWC 2007, and holder of a mighty 111 Test caps between 2000 and 2011 – third only in South African history to Victor Matfield (127) and Bryan Habana (124).
Now 40, Smit becomes the third Bok with a three-figure tally of appearances to join the SuperSport ranks, as they already make routine use of the services of both Matfield and the 109-cap Jean de Villiers.
Traditionally articulate and approachable in his widespread media dealings, the former Sharks favourite – he has also had a period as CEO at Kings Park – is likely to be able to provide especially astute observations on front-row play, given his vast experience at both hooker and prop.
He led the Boks’ last title success in the Rugby Championship (then Tri-Nations) in 2009, and in the same year had captained their winning cause in the series against the British and Irish Lions.
Meanwhile the 37-year-old, Umtata-born Ndungane siblings – each primarily wings – will both bring an extraordinary wealth of first-class rugby knowledge to SuperSport’s live presentations, even if they represented the country considerably fewer times than Smit did: the mostly Bulls-orientated Akona got 11 Test caps and long-time Sharks stalwart Odwa nine.
Odwa had an especially marathon career, playing at first-class level for a rare 18 years between the 2000 and 2017 seasons.
His retirement was recent enough for him to still boast first-hand expertise on many active South African players, either as team-mates or opponents.
Although all three should enhance the studio match-day offerings, Van der Berg said SuperSport’s commentary teams at matches themselves would be largely unchanged.
*The organisation suffered awkward, lingering publicity last season when Bok wing Ashwin Willemse, whose contract has since been terminated, walked off the live set during analysis of a Super Rugby 2018 match, and claimed he had been “patronised” by high-profile colleagues Nick Mallett and Naas Botha.
A SuperSport inquiry chaired by advocate Vincent Maleka cleared Mallett and Botha of racism allegations after Willemse declined to participate in the probe.
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing